Joshua Cole
Submitted by Josh Cole on

Well, from my facebook lurking, it seems like a lot of my friends in Washington are enjoying some epic early season conditions, and the same is true in the Washington Pass area along with pretty good stability!

Snowpack Observations

Washington Pass Zone - In the past week, we've received well over 40cm of snow and the frigid temperatures have kept that snow in great condition! The snowpack currently has little slab character in the places we've been skiing (on most aspects near treeline), but I'd suspect that there are isolated wind slab issues in the alpine. Loose dry avalanches are present as well, so be thoughtful about your runout -- the consequences of a small loose dry avalanche can be significant if you're above trees, cliffs, etc. The only signs of instability we've observed have been wind slab or loose dry avalanches in very steep rocky terrain, and almost all of these seem to have run during the last storm cycle. Looking forward, more precipitation is forecast for Thursday evening and Friday, so storm slabs and wind slabs may become a more pressing issue with this additional loading and wind.


Skiing Moonlight Bowl near Stevens Pass

Stevens Pass Zone - The conditions at Stevens Pass are similar to those found at Washington Pass.  Last weekend's storm that dumped over 20 inches (60 cms) has settled out nicely and both ski conditions and stability are amazing.  We aren't talking amazing for early December, we are talking amazing for any time of year.

Lower elevation zones away from the crest still need some more snow to fill in, but the snowpack around Stevens Pass proper averages around 160 cms near treeline.  The big dump last weekend also laid down a lot of the slide alder so many of the exits are in mid-season shape with very little suffering to get out of the runs.   

Avalanche concerns are limited to isolated, stubborn wind slabs above treeline and loose dry avalanches at all elevations.  Look for another big shot of snow starting on Thursday afternoon which should increase the avalanche hazard.    

This page is for informational purposes only and is no substitute for gathering your own observations in the field and checking the avalanche report at

Skiing Conditions

With all due respect to Bridger Bowl "home of the cold smoke", we have a bit of that cold smoke ourselves right now with low density deep snow and faceshots all around. Our current snowpack varies a lot by elevation, with just a a few inches on the valley floor in Mazama and more than 130-150cm above the hairpin elevation. Even with all the new snow, there are still some open creeks, holes and areas of shallow coverage to be aware of, particularly on the exits from our common ski zones.


Early Dec skiing at Washington pass